Monday, November 15, 2010

It's the Little Things

Today, the day before chemo three, I wanted to give you an inside picture to the "little side effects" of chemo to an individual.  Of course, chemo changes with the medications given and the person themselves, so this is just my experience.

The hair loss and the "dark weekends" that I experience after chemo are the biggest hurdles to the whole experience.  But the smaller things also play a part in maneuvering through the experience.

I've mentioned how the drugs make their way through your system and touch just about everything in it.  This involves a "general drying out" of your entire body.  You need to cream your skin daily since it gets very dry.  My eyes, which are always on the dry side, now need more drops to make them stop feeling scratchy.  My mouth is always dry, and my husband bought me a special toothpaste for "dry mouth" that is helpful.  But I also need to gargle a few times during the day with salt and water or water and baking soda to ensure I don't get mouth sores from the chemo.  I also chew a lot of gum since that produces saliva.  

My stomach was affected also and until the Prilosec, as I mentioned, was unbearably painful.  I need to take this every day to just ensure it does not come back.  Of course, connected to the stomach is....yes, the "unmentionable pathway out for food".  This also is affected by the chemo and you go from being constipated to having diarrhea and taking one medication or another to manage this balancing act.  (Yeah, TMI, I know...but it's a part of it).

Your mouth continually tastes different.  That's why foods taste different and sometimes the same thing you ate the day before, you cannot stomach the next day.  Strong tastes overcome this like peppermint, lemon, etc. and I usually look for that.  Right after chemo, even the look of foods can make you back away for a while.  During this time, my food "likes" are very limited and very plain.  It is usually by the Monday after the Tuesday chemo that I can eat kinda "regular" again.

Your brain is a little foggy....cause you are not sleeping all that well and let's face it, chemo does a job on your body and you are not yourself.  But, for those that know me....maybe this isn't as noticeable since my mind is always in three places at once (LOL).

My head, even though the hair is just about gone (there is just peach fuzz), "hurts".  It is kinda sensitive and that is why right now the wigs are not always comfortable.  I did find something to put underneath that does help somewhat, but it's an additional covering on the head, so it also makes it hotter.  

Speaking of head, headaches come and go related to the anti-nausea drugs, and just life itself.  And there are some minor body aches and sometimes a more pronounced backache.

So, this is my life on chemo.  And while all this is going on, life just continues.  And we all know how that can be!  There are still joys and concerns and things to pray about and things to be happy about and things to worry about in spite of what my body is saying.

But, I keep telling myself that I am lucky my cancer was found so early.  I am fortunate to be looking at a pretty good outcome from all this.  And I thank God that I had that ultrasound that picked up my small cancer and enabled all these preventative measures to take place.  

Tomorrow, Chemo Three for the "red devil" and then just one more dance with her before the new drug and new side effects.  I hope most of them are "little ones". 


  1. Sharon, this is a really good summary. I haven't had the food-related issues but everything else is the same. My scalp also hurts and itches and I prefer going bald at home, too! I wear the wig to work but on Friday switched to a hat. I'm going to keep experimenting. I'm interested to see you aren't sleeping well, either. My doc told me to take adavan every night if I want. Whatever I need to get through this. Hope to see you soon! Heidi

  2. Sharon - I pray that all goes well after this treatment and thank you again for sharing your experiences - you really should write a book about all of this -

  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences...I am prayinf for you, Heidi and all of the others who are so strong.